Chicago at Charlotte

Venue: Time Warner Cable Arena
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The Chicago Bulls avoided a letdown their last time out and aren't likely to overlook the struggling Charlotte Bobcats, either.

Looking for an 11th win in 13 games overall, the Bulls hope to avoid a third loss in four meetings with a Bobcats team that could again be without leading scorer Stephen Jackson on Wednesday night.

After road wins over two of the Eastern Conference's top teams - Orlando and Miami - Chicago (44-18) returned home Monday to face a New Orleans team missing four-time All-Star Chris Paul.

A day after completing a season sweep of the Heat and staying ahead of them for second place in the East, the Bulls were somewhat lethargic against the Hornets and the game was tied with three minutes to play. However, they pulled off an 85-77 victory to move within 2 1/2 games of Boston for the conference lead.

"It was a good win," said Joakim Noah, who had 13 rebounds. "It was a win that we really needed. You look at the top four, five teams in the East, everything is really close. So every game is very important. We understand that. We're just staying focused on improving and winning."

The Bulls must keep that focus against the Bobcats (26-37), the only sub-.500 team to beat them more than once this season. Chicago lost the first two meetings while averaging just 86.5 points before recording a 106-94 home win Feb. 15 behind Luol Deng's 24 points and Derrick Rose's 13 assists - he totaled 11 in the first two matchups.

Noah, who missed all three meetings with a thumb injury, is averaging 16.5 points and 13.3 rebounds in his last four games in the series.

The Bulls have lost four of five at Charlotte, but they completed a 4-1 trip in Miami and are one road win away from surpassing their total from last season (17).

"The city is excited about this team and I think they have a right to be, but for us as players you know, our mentality is different," Noah said. "You got to take it game by game, not get too excited and really focus on the moment, focus on playing game by game and staying consistent."

One area in which Chicago has been extremely consistent is defense. While they are allowing an NBA-low 91.5 points per game, the Bulls have held opponents to 81.1 points on 40.2 percent shooting over their current 6-1 stretch.

That doesn't bode well for Charlotte, averaging 81.2 points and shooting 40.7 percent over a season-worst five-game losing streak. The Bobcats are 3-22 when scoring 90 or less.

Jackson, averaging 19.0 points, was held out for the second consecutive contest Monday night with an injured left hamstring as Charlotte fell 92-87 to the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We were close, but anytime you take the best player out of your lineup, you're going to suffer," coach Paul Silas said. "We tried hard. We just didn't have enough."

Jackson's status for Wednesday is unknown. Forward Tyrus Thomas was hoping to return after missing 23 games due to knee surgery, but he suffered a setback in his recovery and won't play.

Thomas, who spent his first three-plus seasons with the Bulls, had 17 points and 13 rebounds in a 96-91 win over his former team Jan. 12.

"Jack and Tyrus are two big keys to our team," guard Gerald Henderson said. "Overall, we're going to need them to win."

Henderson scored 20 points Monday and is averaging 14.7 over the last nine games - 7.1 more than his season mark.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Chicago -8 Charlotte 8
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Chicago2nd Central 4834.58588-2Lost 1
Charlotte3rd Southeast 4339.524118-2Won 3
Injuries
Chicago
PlayerInjury
D RoseKnee
Charlotte
PlayerInjury
G HendersonWrist
 
Key Players
Derrick<br>Rose
Derrick
Rose
, PG
37.8 Min. Per Game 36.5 Stephen<br>Jackson
Stephen
Jackson
, SF
24.6 Pts. Per Game 19.0
8.1 Ast. Per Game 3.7
4.3 Reb. Per Game 4.5
44.2 Field Goal % 41.6
32.8 Three Point % 33.8
84.0 Free Throw % 81.6
 
Team Rankings
TeamRankPoints
Chicago Bulls791.52
Charlotte Bobcats2475.19
 
Series Game Log
DateLocationResults
 
Other Games
GS 90 Final
NJ 94
OKC 110 Final
Phi 105
Utah 96 Final
Tor 94
LAC 108 Final
Bos 103
Dal 92 Final
NO 93
Cle 90 Final
Mil 110
Ind 75 Final
Min 101
NY 110 Final
Mem 108
Det 104 Final
SA 111
Orl 106 Final
Sac 102